"Take a breath, Captain." the old judge said with surprising evenness in his voice.
If anything Harris looked even more scared after that. But, after a few seconds of glancing nervously around the conference room, he very carefully drew in a long breath and seemed to steady himself.
He finally gave a little nod.
"Better." the old judge chided. "Now. They just arrived in the system. Do you have an estimate as to when the Tulgucks will get to Mars?"
"The calculations are coming through now. It'll be just a moment."
The old judge waited quietly. On the far end of the table however, Darrian heard someone quickly standing up. It was Jin'thun and there was a fury in his eyes.
"Jin'thun?" Darrian asked softly.
The heavy set Gorderian shook his head. It was a simple warning. It said "Don't talk to me right now." Darrian didn't risk trying his anger in that moment of anxiety.
"Here we are." Harris said aloud, regaining the room's attention.
"According to this, three ships have arrived off the edge of Pluto and are en route towards Mars as we speak. It seems that they either fired short are didn't want to risk exiting folded space within the gravitational pull of the solar system."
"Three ships?" asked A'alan't 32. "An advanced force of some kind?"
"It's possible." agreed the old judge.
"They might have underestimated what they need to deal with the humans." offered Darrian.
"Do we really want to bank on that idea?" asked A'alan't 32.
"How long?" demanded Jin'thun, ignoring the others.
Harris looked nervously at the old judge and then back towards Jin'thun.
"Well...they're running on ion thrusters. Slow in the scope of things but they'll reach us soon enough."
"How. Long." Jin'thun growled.
"Five cycles? Maybe six if we're lucky?"
"I need your EXACT coordinates and your estimated coordinates in five cycles."
"It's hard to calculate." Harris said, sounding more unsure than Darrian had ever heard the analyst. "The planetary cycles are so rapid around this sun-"
"Can you or can you not give my your coordinates?" snapped Jin'thun.
"CAN YOU OR CAN YOU NOT?"
Harris looked visibly shaken under the fear of the Tulgucks and Jin'thun's unapologetic abuse. Darrian wondered if he should step in but didn't want to risk getting caught in the crossfire.
"Captain." interjected the old judge. "I believe what our ambassador has failed to tell you is that that the Gorderains have offered aid in defending the humans from the Tulguck assault."
Harris's eyes lit up, looking from the old judge back to Jin'thun.
"Oh...right." Jin'thun said almost bashfully.
"Now. Do you not have a small troop of analysts in your stead? Can you reliably calculate the geospatial location that Jin'thun needs?"
"I can. It will just take me a short while." he said thoughtfully before turning back to Jin'thun. "I'll send it to you the moment we're done calculating."
That was enough for Jin'thun.
"Send it to my datapad. I need to alert my embassy." he said as he immediately made his way towards the conference room door.
He stopped before he walked out, turning back towards the hologram.
"Harris." he continued. "Is there any reason we SHOULDN'T open folded space within the solar system?"
"Not- Not that I know of."
"Let's hope not."
With that, Jin'thun disappeared into the hallway and was gone before anything else could be said.
Darrian shuddered. If someone had told him a rotation ago that two races in the Consortium might be going to war, he'd have called that person mad. Now, it was quickly becoming a disturbing reality.
"Captain." the old judge said sternly towards the shaken Harris. "As soon as you're done with the calculations, I expect you to regain the contact with the human lab."
"You will find out what's going on in the United States lab, Captain."
Nothing more was said. Harris gave a little nod, looking somewhere between scared and annoyed. He terminated the call and the room once again fell silent.
"Do we really care what's going on in the lab?" Ferris finally asked.
"I do." said the old judge. "And I need Harris to, as well."
"Why?" questioned Darrian.
"He needs to be distracted right now." offered A'alan't 32.
"He's scared." agreed Ugul.
The old judge nodded.
"We have five to six cycles before the Tulgucks arrive. We need to gather all the information we can between now and then. Anything we learn about how the Guillae interact with the humans could prove crucial in the future."
"What's it matter if the humans are dead?"
"Because the Guillae won't be."
The council exchanged confused and worried glances. No one said anything. It was starting to become abundantly clear that the old judge might have ulterior motives. No one knew how to react to it.
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